Two Poems, Gustav Parker Hibbett

Flying at Night

after Art Smith and Michael Martone


Art started from behind, on the mortgage 

money from his parents’ home, 

sky-bound for pleasure; not business,

not profit. It had been done before,

again and again — commercial flights

would pop up four years later — and, to most,

there was little left to prove. Flight was science,

a hypothesis put to test and proven,

improved upon and proven again;

but, obviously, there’s a difference

between art and science. Or, rather,

between whimsy and industry. Art

sought to play in, not to conquer,

to fly as Fosbury later would. An exaltation,

a submission. His first takeoff crashed

and he rebuilt anew, in service of wonder. 

Soon, impassioned, he flew words, painted

flare smoke into language, just to watch it 

dissipate. Risky twirls and twists,

names and messages, love letters

to breathlessness. Famously, he loved 

to fly at night, where he shone ephemeral 

against the stars, those lights which feel to us 

like permanence. A Fort Wayne man as Icarus; 

his flight, the playful art of challenging our Gods.


There is a moment in all of our constructions

where we have nothing to our name 

but bits and pieces; debt and junk

and the empty space between two cliffs.

Having drained all the fuel we have 

to reach this point, it’s daunting, raw,

to begin from what feels like nothing;

we are new again, fresh legs unprotected, 

so near to falling; desperate. Sky’s blue face 

a far-off destination; motor, wheels. Gritty underside 

of earnest calculation; hope and fear; what’s left

of that initial wonder; but — as of yet — no plane. 

The House On Robin Drive

Midmorning, and I remember

sunlight, faded cotton curtains 

high above me. I can’t be sure, 

but I think there was baby blue 

in the kitchen somewhere: cabinets, 

wallpaper, maybe curtains. Baby 

isn’t far, though, from robin’s egg;

I can’t decide what’s memory

and what I’ve filled in around it.

What I do see clearly is the light,

or at least the shade of it: delicate,

tentative — early enough in the day

that the world’s still inhaling. Still shaky.

From so far below the counter, 

what I sense is largeness, or a feeling

I would now construe as peace,

a wordless knowledge that my fate

is held, angelic. Like I’m seeing God.

The radio on the countertop is playing,

and I want it to have been music,

but it could just as easily be news

or NPR. I want to hear more clearly,

to see the world taking shape above me 

in a sharper focus; I’m at most two,

and there’s so much yet to come.

On tiptoes, I reach the knob, turn it one way,

then the other: quiet, then overwhelming noise.

Gustav Parker Hibbett is a Black poet, essayist, and MFA dropout. Originally from New Mexico, they are currently pursuing a PhD at Trinity College Dublin. They are a 2022 Djanikian Scholars Semifinalist and a 32 Poems Featured Emerging Poet, and their most recent work appears or is forthcoming in BansheePigeon PagesRiver Heron ReviewAdroitBelfield Literary Review, and Icarus. You can also find them on Twitter (@gustav_parker) and Instagram (@gustavparker).  

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